Updated Photogrammetric Mapping History for GIS Consortium Members

​A proactive approach is taken every year to update GIS Consortium members on how current their spatial data is. The GIS Consortium photogra​mmetric vendor is a nationwide engineering, mapping and survey firm that provides high-accuracy geospatial data that the counties cannot. All available orthophoto (aerial imagery similar to what one might see on Google), planimetric (roads, buildings, rivers) and topographic (elevation) data is visualized by the year it was purchased. Aerial LiDAR coverage is also shown with the topography data. This technology produces surface models from laser pulses emitted from a helicopter or plane. The color-coded maps allow communities to budget for updated data by seeing which areas have been updated in the past and if those areas have seen any significant construction or demolition over the years.

Collecting and maintaining accurate data for a Geographic Information System (GIS) program assures the base map is complete and allows GIS users, municipal employees, and decision makers to consume precise data and make decisions based on accurate, complete data. Commercial mapping companies​s might provide good data from a regional perspective, but their price and low precision are not ideal for local governments. Up-to-date photogrammetric and topographic data is beneficial to both MGP, Inc. employees as well as their clients.

Using GIS to Compare Regional Sales Tax

​The Illinois Department of Revenue provides municipalities with sales tax data they can use to compare tax rates by municipality, county, or special commercial area.  To better understand how the Village of Woodridge’s general merchandise and telecommunications sales taxes compare to surrounding communities, the village’s Finance department asked the village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) department to create a custom data layers that shows the regional distributions of these taxes.  These custom layers were able to display this information visually in the village’s interactive mapping application, MapOffice™, in a readily available way, as opposed to making comparisons line by line using a spreadsheet.

These custom layers were created by dividing the tax information up by municipality and special commercial area boundaries based the county in which they exist, which in turn defines the sales tax for that community.  Once these boundaries had been created, they were symbolized based on their total sales tax rate. To visualize the makeup of each areas total sales tax rate, a Microsoft Excel Macro was used to generate a pie chart for each area.  Each of these charts was then embedded in the GIS attribute information for each area, so, when the user clicks on an area in MapOffice™, the chart is displayed.  By embedding chart-based analytics within a custom map layer, users can easily make visual comparisons of sales tax between communities, helping the village Finance department staff to be more efficient and productive with the time they spend working on requests related to this information.

GIS Assists with Identifying High Risk Burgalry Areas

The Village of Woodridge, IL has begun to proactively analyze areas being targeted for burglaries in an effort to understand what parts of the village are at higher risk and how policing strategies can be used for prevention.  For reporting purposes, maps were created that show the distribution of vehicle burglaries and building burglaries from 2011 to 2013.  The data used to create these maps was obtained from calls for service records provided by the county dispatch system.  Once these records were filtered for the crimes being analyzed and given locations on a map, an analysis could be conducted to determine which areas were more vulnerable to burglaries.

A GIS analysis that shows clusters of similar data, or hot spots, was used to determine areas that are more likely to be burglarized.  This analysis takes into account the relationship between the quantity and location of burglary incidents to determine areas that are more likely to experience a burglary.  The result of this analysis is a hot spot map that shows areas of higher likelihood of experiencing a burglary (hot spots) and areas not likely to experience this (cold spots).  Since this analysis incorporated incidents over the course of a few years, patterns emerged that indicated known and unknown information. For example, while multiple burglaries in or around a shopping center may be expected, other areas in Woodridge experienced more burglaries than expected between 2011 and 2013.  This may mean more information is needed to explain this phenomenon or different policing strategies should be considered.  Using GIS to analyze the village’s historic crime data helped the Police department to clearly visualize this type of pattern in an easily consumable way that can be used moving forward as a tool for more developing more proactive policing strategies.

Expect the best when planning for the worst: Emergency Management in the GIS Consortium

​One of the core beliefs at MGP is to actively improve upon the past. But how do we make improvements to a process when its very nature is unpredictable? Such is the challenge with emergency response planning, as no two incidents are the same and emergencies are always unexpected. However, we learn a lot with each emergency event, and leverage this information to develop new tools for use in all GIS Consortium communities.

One of the challenges that every community faces in an emergency event is how to communicate with residents. One way to do this efficiently is to have a standard template that can be filled in with event-specific information at a moment’s notice. With this goal in mind, a team of MGP staff members reviewed the data from past severe weather events to look for patterns. Those commonalities were documented in GIS format and put into a template with a standardized naming convention and symbol set. Now, every community has a ready-to-use environment for collecting and storing information, which will save the time it would take to create something from scratch. In turn, communities can publish relevant information in that template to residents

 

GIS Provides Foundation for New Village Dispatch System

​Village of Tinley Park, IL has recently invested in modernizing their village Computer Aided Dispatch System (CAD). Part of this modernization was building the foundation of the new CAD upon data that is created, updated and managed by the village Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program.  This data includes residential and commercial addresses and address ranges to allow for vehicle routing to calls made from homes or from cell phones throughout the village.  Important information such as fire hydrant locations, building characteristics, and building entry points were also built in GIS to allow first responders a chance to create an operational plan prior to arriving at the scene of an emergency.

Arriving on scene with a plan allows for quick action in a situation where minutes can be critical to the outcome of an emergency. GIS also can help track data that will allow the village map and report on reoccurring incidents in the village, such as auto accidents or burglaries.  Having a GIS program helped to save the village tens of thousands of dollars in data implementation costs for the CAD system, as well as provide local authoritative data and more robust product for emergency responders.

La Grange and Schiller Park join the GIS Consortium

Good things come in pairs!  We are very excited to announce that both La Grange and Schiller Park have joined the GIS Consortium.  They are the 24th and 25th members respectively.  This is the first time in our 15-year history that two communities have joined in the same week.

 

On behalf of the GIS Consortium Board, its member community staffs, and MGP Inc. we want to welcome both communities and we look forward to working together to achieve your goals.

GIS Assists with Developing a Streetlight Inventory

A common challenge faced by many local governments is keeping an accurate inventory of its physical assets, and the City of Park Ridge, IL is no different.  Over the past several years, the city has been gradually building an inventory of its streetlights to allow for quick reference for routine maintenance, replacement, or even emergency purposes. To assist with managing this asset collection process of the city’s 1,500 streetlights the city’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department was consulted to help development the framework and management process for collecting, maintaining, and most importantly, displaying the collected data for quick reference by city staff.

Using a handheld GPS unit, a city engineer collected the geographic location for all streetlight locations throughout the city. Once the data was quality controlled and attributed with the correct ownership and maintenance information, a comprehensive streetlight inventory was created in GIS and added to MapOffice™ Advanced, a mapping and property information program that all city staff have access to. Staff can type in an address and have the streetlight information display instantly using the application’s utility display tools.  Another added bonus that this project provided was that, once the inventory was built in GIS, it was cross-checked with a city streetlight location list provided by ComEd, which in turn resulted in the findings of a number of streetlights that ComEd was charging the city for that did not actually exist.  This inventory is also invaluable when it comes to reporting the location of a streetlight outage by allowing city staff to see exactly where it’s located on a property and which agency is responsible for fixing it.

Without GIS, a city employee would need to search through large binders filled with text based descriptions of streetlight locations.   That type of approach to identifying streetlight locations would be much more time consuming and result in increased workflow inefficiencies.  Having a location based, easy to access, visual tool for locating streetlights helps to streamline department workflows and increase turnaround time for dealing with light maintenance or ownership issue.

GIS Creates Planting Routes for Seasonal Tree Plantings

Each year, hundreds of local community parkway trees need to be removed for various reasons. The City of Park Ridge, IL does its best in keeping up with these removals, as the budget allows, by planting trees to replace the ones that are removed.  Twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, the city contracts with multiple nurseries to plant anywhere from 150-300 trees depending on a variety of factors.  Each nursery has a list of addresses of planting sites that they are responsible for so, to assist with developing the best routes for planting at each property, the city’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department was contacted to assist the nurseries in their planting endeavors.

In previous years, a static map with planting locations was provided to each nursery to assist in their tree planting efforts. Instead of producing the same basic planting location map as had been done previously, vehicle routing information was added to the map to better assist the nursery in determining not only where the planting locations were located, but the quickest and most efficient route to plant each tree.  These maps also have a copy of the planting address list, which illustrates what type of tree will be planted and the actual parkway location in which each tree will be planted at. Turn by turn directions, that include distances between each, were also  provided as a supplemental resource to the routing maps.

Having these maps and supplemental lists in the driver’s hands allows less time to be lost during the planting process due to lack of knowledge of the community, wrong turns, or bad directions.  With the new additions of the routing information and the turn by turn directions to the already existing planting location maps, the tree planting process now takes less time and is more efficient than in past years for all nurseries involved.

Fire Inspection Reporting

The Village of Oak Brook, IL routinely inspects commercial properties to insure each building is compliant with local, regional and federal fire safety standards.  This is a standard practice across all municipal and regional fire agencies, performed by fire prevention bureaus and often tracked in paper or digital format.  Oak Brook’s fire department has been using software called Firehouse™ to track the type, location, frequency, and findings of all inspections done throughout the Village.  This information is regularly accessed and reviewed by administrative personnel, but can sometimes provide too much information or be overly complex to access and consolidate into a consumable format.  In order to have a quick reference summary for the previous month’s inspections, the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department was asked to map all inspections and categorize them by the type of inspection that took place.

In order to not duplicate work being done within the Firehouse™ software, the GIS department decided to setup a live connection to the table within Firehouse™ that is tracking inspection information.  This type of live connection allowed the fire department to continue tracking inspections as they always have within Firehouse™, but also provides an automated process that allows staff to map each inspection location and access its pertinent information through the village’s web mapping application, MapOffice™.  The process for retrieving and displaying this information in MapOffice™ allows for weekly, monthly, and annual summaries of the data to be easily generated by staff without having to duplicate any data entry or change their daily inspection tracking process.  By integrating GIS with their already existing operations, administrative personnel now has a tool that summarizes all the information they’re looking for in and easy to use, visual format.

GIS Provides the Foundation for New Dispatch System

​The Village of Norridge, IL has recently invested in modernizing their village Computer Aided Dispatch System (CAD). Part of this modernization was building the foundation of the new CAD upon data that is created, updated and managed by the village Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program.  This data includes residential and commercial addresses and address ranges to allow for vehicle routing to calls made from homes or from cell phones throughout the village.  Important information such as fire hydrant locations, building characteristics, and building entry points were also built in GIS to allow first responders a chance to create an operational plan prior to arriving at the scene of an emergency.

Arriving on scene with a plan allows for quick action in a situation where minutes can be critical to the outcome of an emergency. GIS also can help track data that will allow the village map and report on reoccurring incidents in the village, such as auto accidents or burglaries.  Having a GIS program helped to save the village tens of thousands of dollars in data implementation costs for the CAD system, as well as provide local authoritative data and more robust product for emergency responders.